Two Camels, No Roadsigns — Hell, No Roads

A couple of Mongolian camels looking for the goat to come and return the horns

I had to travel last week. The job required me to get out and about in our branches so we packed the car, and set off. The troop was our driver, his son who accompanied us as it was school holidays, Baggy, the faithful and long suffering translator and aide confidante and Thomo. We left Ulaanbaatar around lunchtime on Monday and headed south to Sukhbaatar Aimag (province/state). From Sukhbaatar, we would head north, passing through the edge of Dornod and then into Khentii Aimag, after which, we would return to Ulaanbaatar five days later.

Wonderful trip. We stopped and looked at bank branches in nine Soums (towns), one Aimag Centre (main provincial town) and a small village. The country folk were wonderful and some of the scenery was just totally inspiring.

At one point as we travelled along, two camels atop a hill watched our progress. It should be noted too that in the countryside, there are no road signs pointing the next town. Hell, there are no roads – just tracks – and some of them are hard to see if they are not travelled often.

Come visit Mongolia, but if you want to get off the beaten track (that would be the main north-south highway) then connect with one of the local tour people – or drop me a line and I’ll put you in touch with some reputable groups. Come see the countryside though, it is an experience you will remember. I will get some more photos up in Thomo’s Hole Proper soon – in the meantime, here is the highway we followed from Baruun-urt, the Aimag Centre of Sukhbaatar Aimag to Norovlin in Khentii Aimag.

A Shower, My Kingdom For A Shower

One of the things in short supply on the Steppe is water. There are a few rivers passing through, and if you are lucky, there may be a subterranean bore handy, all providing water. This water is generally carried by hand to the gers (round felt houses – like yurts) of the local population. In the Soums (small towns and villages) of Mongolia where there are no hotels or motels some accommodation can normally be found in the government buildings. In some of the more popular areas of Mongolia you will find tourist camps. Again, these may not have a large supply of water so cleaning facilities will usually consist of a bowl and some water (and very little water at that – and that supply only in a trickle). Being Australian, I like a shower. I like to be well cleaned. Going a few days without from necessity is not a great trial, but at the first available opportunity to take a shower, then a shower I will take.

We pulled into Baruun-urt, the Aimag Centre of Sukhbaatar Aimag at about 10 pm on Tuesday night, having been travelling for two days. The local manager of the bank had telephoned the public bathhouse and persuaded them to leave the heat on the water for a little longer. What a treat that shower was and how pleasant it was to wash the dust from face, arms, legs and hair.

I must admit, when I returned to Ulaanbaatar after a week traipsing around the Aimags, I spent a good hour soaking in a bath 🙂